Wednesday, April 27, 2005

More Musical Matters.

OK, now I need to fill in the important stuff.

Wrist recovery
This is continuing to go really well. My slap came back much quicker than I'd hoped: it seems to be pretty much back up to scratch apart from the fastest of the triplet stuff, which is fair enough considering that I still can't use my right hand to lift really heavy stuff at the moment. Fingerstyle is going just fine. The only thing I need to do is make sure my nail beds don't get quite so hammered with my slap style: I fear I need to work on that or I'll end up peeling them back horribly. My index finger is showing the strain today, and I've got another rehearsal tonight!

Recording session!
Had another session with Joost for his college project, doing Stevie Wonder's "MasterBlaster". Good fun, but I really wish I'd had more time to work on it (I squeezed it into a couple of evenings work, which meant I got the feel, and the couple of unison riff areas in the tune down OK). First take! And I was sat in the control room playing along with a MIDI interpretation of the tune Joost did as a placemarker to record against. Totally hysterical vocal lines, and this massive lo-fi choir patch in the second chorus which meant I lost my place in the run-through before the recording!

Still not sure if I got the second unison bit right, though. Oops, just checked. Joost's MIDI was right, I forgot the high section! Blast. Wonder if he wants to re-record it? Thing is, with moving and the oxford funky pop act, I really don't have time to do much of anything at the moment, including "proper" practise. The rehearsals are pretty much all I'm doing at the moment (which is very very bad of me).

Audiences at rehearsals!
I mentioned this in passing before. Jake does seem to know a lot of guys who can do the sorts of things we need to be able to do. His previous agent (he was based in london a while ago from what I gather) used to scout for EMI, and he's going to pay us a visit during rehearsals. The audience we've been getting recently are involved in the club "Bridge" in oxford where Jake is trying to get a residency for the band. I think our guitar players didn't realise how good we'd get after a few rehearsals. The original material is sounding really great, the interpretations the whole band are making of the recorded versions (from Jake's studio) are original and fresh. Sounds like our erstwhile 6 stringers have a fairly successful paying rock act which gets a fair few gigs: I've told Jake I don't have any other acts and I'm concentrating on making this a goer. It's cool, he's actually demanding a level of loyalty which I'm starting to enjoy.

New Gear - the Stack from Hell
Well, I don't have the cabs yet, but at least I've paid for them :) Didn't hear anything from Mad Monks for a couple of days so I rang them - turned out they'd emailed me at home (my ebay account is registered to a home email account) rather than the email address here at Pana where I wanted them to mail me. After treating me like a lost friend, they quickly ironed out payment, and I managed to get 60 quids worth of polycarbonate 4U rack mount (Stagg, I think it is) for the Warwick Pro-Tube IX head to sit in. Which means even my feeble wrist will be able to lift it easily (and comfortably).

Bit of advice: if you buy an amp head which says it's rack-mountable, but it has rubber feet on, don't skimp and leave a rack out of the order: get one to fit, the amp head will be incredibly awkward to lift and carry!

Now all I need are a couple of speakon cables to hook the whole shebang up. And some floor reinforcement. :)

Must stop buying things!

Location, location, location...

Lots more rehearsals later, we're getting the occasional audience out at jake's place. I thought I'd post some interesting details, and some not so interesting ones, in the spirit of keeping things up to date :)

Movin' movin' movin'

It's going to get more interesting in the very near future, Nic and I are moving house: out from under Newbury, and up the M4 to just north of windsor to Dorney (Multimap), a tiny village just over a hill from the M4 (feels really rural for its' location).

With the rehearsals being in the studio in Crawley near oxford (Multimap) this is going to make life a little tough - I suspect the M40 is going to get used in preference - but if I continue working at Panasonic for a while (Multimap) trying to stop myself from going insane, then the drive up there of an evening ain't so bad.

The house is so worth it though. Check this baby out!

A stunning house. It even has a grapevine and a sky dish!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

the cast is off!

the cast is off!

Woohoo! I'm free! So now i just need to work on getting my slap technique back up to scratch. I've been playing bass the whole time, which might have helped my speedy recovery. 5 weeks, not the usual 6! I'm dead pleased, as you can tell. The wrist support is my own, the one i was using previously for snowboarding before the gloves which did such a great job of protecting my wrist from more harm. The nhs did supply one, bless them, but it isn't as good as this one. My typing has gone through the roof!

Great rehearsals at crawley with jake and the band. Last night's was a blinder, lots of fast tracks. Hopefully now i can play faster for longer. The cast got in the way a lot, had to play at very odd angles.

Friday, April 08, 2005



I'm still managing to play fairly well with the cast on. I thought i'd drop off a pic or two from wednesday's rehearsal, which went really well. The writing vibe is developing nicely, we can take something really edgy which jake has polished in the studio and interpret it a little to give it a funky feel which works well live. Not bad!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Another era of amplification...

Well, sort of! I've been through a few amps while I've been playing. Might be good for posterity to record them here (albeit in my rather crappy typing with this bloody cast!), so here's what I remember...

- = = 1st amp! = = -
A 15W guitar practise amp, plus a hifi speaker which I put in the corner of my room, speaker facing into the corner, and believe me that creates a great low-end port. I got a good sound out of that with my first bass, a spangly white hohner arbor bought in Sound Control Dundee. Top shop.

- = = Then... = = -
My first real amp, a carlsbro cobra 90 combo. Not the loudest amp in the world, but I got great mileage out of it. I even made up a parallel speaker cable at one stage when I was with a prog rock act called "Indecision" in St Andrews so I could run two speaker cabs off it and still keep the impedance at 8 ohms. I didn't blow it :) I did put castors on it though, rescued off a sofa :) they did a good job - the thing had a traditional single handle on the top, bloody awkward!

- = = And then... = = -
I bought a 120 watt valve amp (off the back of a magazine article), a "sound city", but couldn't afford cabinets (weeps) - the thing was a monster, I got it down leith walk in Edinburgh. Some good secondhand music gear shops down there then, not sure about now...

- = = And then... = = -
Back to Sound Control Dundee! I traded in the Carlsbro and the Sound City for a Peavey TNT 150 plus a 2x8" 20W powered bright box. The TNT saw me through the rest of my university life and on until I was living in reading! The bright box I still have - it's incredibly useful, and the fretless sounds great through it. At one stage I used it for vocals in a gig in the beer bar in St Andrews with Citrus Waltz!

- = = And then... = = -
I sold the TNT to a contractor at work, and I bought the Warwick CCL I use at the moment. 1x15 and 250 watts solid state. The thing has side handles (finally!) and a built-in trolley (which is bloody useful). I bought an 8 ohm Trace Elliot 2x10 cab from the Bass Centre (when it was still in wapping, and got it back to Ealing Broadway on my own on the tube!), and as a system it sound great. But... I need more power for big gigs. So...

- = = The announcement = = -
I just bought the Bass Centre's LAST special half-price offer Warwick Pro Tube IX 900 watt stereo tube/solid state head. Turns out the line is being discontinued, so BC got a good deal on clearing the stock, and I get the benefits. Sweet! Keep an eye on ebay shops, that's what I say! Next, I'll get the classic arrangement of 1x15 and 4x10 cabs, both warwick, and for the first time in my playing life I'll have that pro looking stack, with the power to match. The head gets great reviews, with versatile routing capabilities. Nice!

Otherwise, it's still rehearsals as usual in Cowley: I've been using a Trace V4 combo, which sounds incredible. Hope the twin pre-and power amp tubes in the IX give that kind of growl!

Life is good. Now if I can just get this damn cast off I can practise properly!